When it comes to bags you want them to be practical, reliable and durable. Three things you can always expect from hemp. Throw in the fact that hemp is one of the most environmentally sustainable resources and you’ve got 4 good reasons to invest in a hemp backpack, holdall, handbag or shopping bag. If you find yourself thinking “are hemp bags any good?” then you’ve come to the right place for answers!
A recent study claims that a cotton “bag for life” style shopping bag or tote bag could be more harmful to the climate than using a standard plastic bag. The reasoning behind this is that a cotton tote bag requires more materials and more energy to produce than a single plastic bag. A UK government report estimates that the carbon footprint of a cotton tote bag is equal to producing ~173 plastic bags. Of course, this does not take into account the fact that the cotton bag will be reused probably more than 173 times, plus the pollution and litter that plastic bags cause to the environment, which is in itself a huge problem. The point is that although a cotton tote bag may seem like the more planet-friendly option, the environmental impact of producing a cotton tote bag is not insignificant by any means.
When you choose a hemp tote bag, a lot of the carbon from the production process is already offset by the hemp plant itself. That’s because hemp is nature’s greatest carbon sink, it absorbs more CO2 in its short growing period than any other crop or forest! Isn’t that incredible? It’s estimated that an acre of hemp can remove between 5-10 tons of CO2 per crop, and in the right climates 2 crops per year can be grown. That’s as much as 20 tons of CO2 per acre of hemp per year. Contrast this with one acre of mature trees, which absorbs around 2.6 tonnes of CO2 per year. It’s important to note that we’re talking about mature trees and it can take anywhere from 7-40 years for a tree to reach maturity depending on the species. With these statistics, you can start to see why hemp is such a good choice for removing CO2 from the atmosphere and combating climate change.
Hemp is the strongest natural fibre in the plant world. It has 5x the tensile strength of cotton and 3x the durability. This coupled with the fact that a single hemp fibre can be as long as the plant is tall (sometimes up to 4m in length), means that any fabric made from hemp fibres has incredible strength and durability. Whereas cotton is made from spinning together lots of small fibres to create a yarn, hemp is made from much longer fibres. This means that there is less pilling and less chance of holes forming in hemp fabric compared to cotton.
Bags go through much more wear and tear than you might consider. From the stresses of being overstuffed, to the frequent putting down (often on abrasive floor surfaces) and picking up, to the repetitive strains put on the material simply through the act of carrying the bag loaded with stuff, there are plenty of ways that a bag can wear out. It is now fairly well known that keeping an item that we already own for longer is better for the environment than buying something new. The carbon footprint of producing new items is colossal, and wherever possible we should be reusing items that already exist, or buying second hand to minimise our impact on the planet and the climate. When it comes to hemp, the production of a new bag is offset by the incredible CO2 absorption of the plant itself, and the bag lasts for much longer than other natural fibre fabrics, so it’s a win-win!
Any bag has to be functional and fit for purpose, and we’re privileged to have a huge range of hemp bags available to suit a variety of uses. From small coin purses to huge holdalls, from simple tote bags to hard laptop cases or briefcases made from hemp composites (an alternative to plastics). There is a hemp bag for every occasion, and they’re as sleek and stylish as you might expect from any type of backpack, it’s not just your colourful hippy bags with a big cannabis leaf on them, there are many discreet and professional looking options so that you can show your love for the environment without fear of being labelled as a stoner hippy (yes people do still associate hemp with smoking weed, we’ve come a long way recently, but there’s still a way to go until we change the stereotype in absolutely everyone’s minds). Take a look at a few of the styles below.
There are a wide range of hemp backpacks or rucksacks available from small kids versions to large adult versions. They’re highly versatile, great for anyone who is on-the-go and can be used as a school bag or work bag.
Hemp tote bags are perfect for carrying your shopping home from the supermarket, and are more eco-friendly than a cotton tote. We have a few styles of hemp tote bags available right now on our website.
Hemp holdalls or duffel bags are a great choice for storing your gym gear, or taking on your travels. Since hemp is naturally moisture-wicking and antibacterial your bag will stay fresh and clean for longer!
One of the smaller types of hemp bags, the classic bum bag style is highly practical for taking on holiday, to festivals or on days out. Store your valuables without fear of them falling out of your pocket!
Hemp shoulder bags, or messenger bags are a popular choice, and they give a professional look as well. Store your work gear in them, along with your laptop or tablet. Perfect for the commute, or taking to college!
Did you know that hemp can be made in to a hard composite material that can be used to replace plastic? Well now you do! A hemp fibre briefcase is the #1 choice for keeping your technology safe on the move.
Bonus: The Web’s Most Asked Questions About Hemp Bags
Are hemp bags good?
- Quite simply, yes! We thinking they’re the best material for making bags as you know from reading the article above.
What are hemp bags for?
- Hemp bags are suitable for a huge range of uses since there are so many types of hemp bags. Use them as your school bag, work bag, laptop case, handbag, your travel luggage bag, a coin purse, shopping bag or whatever else you can dream of!
Are hemp bags durable?
- Yes! As discussed above, hemp bags are incredibly durable thanks to the fact that hemp fibres are the strongest natural fibres in the world. They have 5x the strength of cotton and 3x the durability.
Are hemp bags washable?
- Yes, you can machine wash most hemp bags, but always check the manufacturers recommendations before doing this. Hemp is also naturally antibacterial, which keeps your bag fresh and hygienic for longer than other materials!
How are hemp bags made?
- Hemp bags are made from the hemp plant, a variety of the cannabis family with low levels of THC that has been cultivated for thousands of years to make fabrics, ropes and much more. Hemp plants are grown in fields and harvested after around 4 months of growth. The bast fibres are separated from the plant through a process of retting (natural) or decorticating (mechanical). Once the fibres have been separated, they are spun together to produce a long continuous yarn. These yarns are woven or knitted together to produce fabrics. The fabric is then ready to be cut and sewn in the shape of a bag. Zippers, buckles, fasteners and other accessories are attached as required, and the bag is quality tested to ensure it meets the standards of the manufacturer.
Are hemp bags waterproof?
- Most hemp bags provide a degree of water resistance, but are not waterproof without any kind of treatment. You can always apply a waterproofing treatment such as Nikwax (which is an environmentally friendly waterproofing treatment spray).
What are hemp backpacks?
- This one seems obvious, but Google tells me that people are asking the question so I’ll do my best to answer it. Hemp backpacks are backpacks (a type of bag worn on the back, usually with two shoulder straps) made from fabric woven using natural fibres from the hemp plant.
Are hemp bags good for the environment?
- Hemp bags are great for the environment! As we detailed above, the hemp plant absorbs more CO2 than any other plant, it improves soil quality, it requires no chemicals and requires far less water and land than other natural fibres such as cotton.
What are hemp backpacks made of?
- Hemp backpacks or rucksacks are made from fabrics woven from the fibres of the hemp plant, a species of cannabis that has been used for making fabrics for thousands of years.